Walter Breen's Numismatic Legacy
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273 posts in this topic

4 hours ago, WoodenJefferson said:

There, I fixed that for ya...I think Roger was the one disagreeing. Oh and here's the accompanying letter to the so-called 'specimen'

WALTER BREEN
Box 352, Berkley CA 94701
August 12, 1989
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
This certifies that I have examined the accompanying coin and that I unhesitatingly declare it genuine and as described below.
It is a 1935 buffalo nickel described as a "specimen striking". It has extraordinary sharpness, obviously and visible from two blows from the dies. This extra impression has imparted not only extra design detail as on a proof, but extra sharpness on the inner and outer rims, again as on proofs. Surfaces are satiny, though unlike the 1916, 1917, 1927 or 1936 type one proofs; it is uncertain if any special treatment was don to the surfaces as normally with proofs. This is the first such piece I have seen.

Respectfully submitted, Walter Breen
 


So here is an interesting question... When coins are struck multiple times, particularly in the 1930s and before, what is the likelihood that the overlap will be 100% and undetectable using extremely high magnification?  

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10 hours ago, t-arc said:

I would never own anything written by rwb

You are missing out on a vast, well written, thoroughly researched and sourced trove of numismatic knowledge. Rather than here-say and speculation to feed his ego, Roger has produced a corpus which refutes much of the numis-myth which came before. Disregarding his research is doing yourself a disservice. 

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RE: So here is an interesting question... When coins are struck multiple times, particularly in the 1930s and before, what is the likelihood that the overlap will be 100% and undetectable using extremely high magnification?  

Very few coins were deliberately struck more than once. If a deeper, more precise impression were desired, the Mint used a medal press as they did for proof coins. (Proofs were struck once up to the mid-20th century when Schuler produced presses capable of making more than one strike while keeping the planchet and dies in precise alignment. All of the 5-oz silver "coasters" are struck twice. I've watched the work being done at Philadelphia and the press is amazing -- and needs constant attention, too.)

[It might be helpful to review the information in From Mine to Mint, where there are illustrations and descriptions of the technology used at US Mints into the 1930s. Also Issue #1 of the journal of Numismatic Research has extensive information about 1890s toggle press patents and the Janvier French patent.]

Edited by RWB
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RE: "Knife rim." This is called a "fin" by numismatists and is not a part of a die. It is caused by a slight mismatch between collar and the face dies. It does not, as Breen implied, have anything to do with "pressure" or "detail" or the price of "specimen cups for specimen nickels."  :)

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@RWB

I understand what you are saying and worded my question awkwardly.  If Breen was correct that the 1935 nickel or even his "proof" 1906-D dimes were intentionally struck multiple times, wouldn't there be microscopic evidence to support it?  So far, nothing has been offered to prove his contention other than a crisp strike.  The fact that Breen did not know how proof coins were even struck only supports my belief that these are fabrications.  Also could Breen perhaps, in the case of the Barber Dime, merely be mistaking it for an early PL business strike?  Those exist for the series.

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in Walter Breens Proof Encyclopedia, issued in 1991, under the section on buffalo nickels, he mentions that a number of matte proof 1917 nickels that he had seen had a die break on the obverse near (to the left) of the L in LIBERTY. past it and down into the field --and so I began my quest to find a 1917 buffalo nickel with this die crack or break.  I reasoned that if this die was used to strike business strikes then I should see one now and then, and maybe even in a lower circulated grade.  None turned up and I became discouraged.  After looking at I do not know how many hundreds or thousands of 1917 buffs one finally turned up in an eBay auction in the summer or 2016.  It looked like a proof, walked like a proof, and talked like a proof!  And when i got it  (payed all of $176) the real clincher was the brilliant rims which were sharp and squared with no beveling!  Looked exactly like a proof on the “third side” of the coin.  And then to top it off, on this piece there is massive evidence of double striking on the date and designer’s initial F.  The surfaces were what I would have expected on a matte proof.  I sent the coin to SEGS and it is now in a SEGS slab graded matte proof-63.  Some pictures of the raw coin follow -- I will photograph the slab and post it later.  But it is the real deal.   As the late Walter Breen used to say “It carries it own creds.”.

pics of the obverse of the coin follow.......

s-l1600_zpsptkebadc.jpg

s-l1600.b_zpsepzvyq9u.jpg

s-l1600.c_zpspudsebp7.jpg

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9 hours ago, WoodenJefferson said:

There, I fixed that for ya...I think Roger was the one disagreeing. Oh and here's the accompanying letter to the so-called 'specimen'

WALTER BREEN
Box 352, Berkley CA 94701
August 12, 1989
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
This certifies that I have examined the accompanying coin and that I unhesitatingly declare it genuine and as described below.
It is a 1935 buffalo nickel described as a "specimen striking". It has extraordinary sharpness, obviously and visible from two blows from the dies. This extra impression has imparted not only extra design detail as on a proof, but extra sharpness on the inner and outer rims, again as on proofs. Surfaces are satiny, though unlike the 1916, 1917, 1927 or 1936 type one proofs; it is uncertain if any special treatment was don to the surfaces as normally with proofs. This is the first such piece I have seen.

Respectfully submitted, Walter Breen
 

I am confused here is Roger “birdie” Burdette “Numisport" or “RWB"?

 

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The 1917 looks like it has a trivial finned rim and may be from a slightly misaligned die.  I have never seen this on a proof coin.  It looks like a business strike to me.

Edited by coinman_23885
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1 hour ago, coinman_23885 said:

The 1917 looks like it has a trivial finned rim and may be from a slightly misaligned die.  I have never seen this on a proof coin.  It looks like a business strike to me.

But in the slab you cannot see the   brilliant squared non-beveled rim.  Thats one bad thing about it being in a slab.  It hides one of its best attributes.  I will post pictures of the slab here soon.  Really do not want to get into a

a shouting match about 1917 specimen coinage.  Been there before.  Not enjoyable.  

 

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Never would have found or looked for the above 1917 nickel had it not been for Breen’s Encyclopedia of U S Coins and his Proof Coin Encyclopedia.

note comments on slab say “mirror rims/wire edge” and “crack rim “L” LIB field”   (If you do not have a copy  of Breen's encyclopedia you can get a copy on eBay for a

reasonable price.)

Edited by t-arc
correct spelling error
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coinman_23885

 

Sorry, I misunderstood the context of your question. To strike a coin multiple times in a 1930s-era electric toggle, and maintain exact registration would have been extremely difficult, possibly impossible even if the motor and clutch were disconnected and the toggle arm operated manually. There was simply too much mechanical "play" and wiggle in the mechanism for multiple strikes to work. (Why were all but the lowest relief souvenir medals struck on medal presses and not much faster and cheaper toggle presses?)

A medal press developed higher striking pressure over a longer impact time. This allowed better metal flow into the dies and produced a coin will full details (if the die had full details). There was no need for multiple medal press blows since the design was brought up with one strike.

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As to a poster's 1917 nickel material; no source evidence is presented by Breen or anyone else. But consider this paraphrased comment by Charles Barber in 1913. He said that the design had so many irregularities, that although the first few coin off a new die were excellent, the buildup of steel particles soon abraded the dies and they had to be replaced frequently if good quality was to be maintained. Soon, he allowed the mints to use dies longer, because his department could not maintain the pace of making replacement dies. Although a new pair of hubs was introduced for 1916, the problem remained to a lesser extent throughout the issue's life. [Barber's letters are quoted and referenced to their source in Renaissance of American Coinage 1909-1915. All documents are in public archives and available to all.]

To some extent it is understandable that Breen, and others, would confuse coins off new dies with some kind of special pieces. A new die has a satin-like appearance due to the final cleanup and acid dip then in use to remove oxidation products. The first few toggle press coins would have had satin-like surfaces and sharp details - they would be exceptionally circulation pieces. However, even with a satin-like surface they would lack all the physical characteristics of a medal press proof coin. Sadly, Breen never understood how any of this worked, and his faithful acolytes continue the confusion. (Buffalo nickel proofs 1913-1916 were always matte finish, which came from sandblasting the dies before final hardening and tempering. 1936 satin proofs were made from normal fresh dies used in a medal press.)

Edited by RWB
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15 hours ago, RWB said:

As to a poster's 1917 nickel material; no source evidence is presented by Breen or anyone else. But consider this paraphrased comment by Charles Barber in 1913. He said that the design had so many irregularities, that although the first few coin off a new die were excellent, the buildup of steel particles soon abraded the dies and they had to be replaced frequently if good quality was to be maintained. Soon, he allowed the mints to use dies longer, because his department could not maintain the pace of making replacement dies. Although a new pair of hubs was introduced for 1916, the problem remained to a lesser extent throughout the issue's life. [Barber's letters are quoted and referenced to their source in Renaissance of American Coinage 1909-1915. All documents are in public archives and available to all.]

To some extent it is understandable that Breen, and others, would confuse coins off new dies with some kind of special pieces. A new die has a satin-like appearance due to the final cleanup and acid dip then in use to remove oxidation products. The first few toggle press coins would have had satin-like surfaces and sharp details - they would be exceptionally circulation pieces. However, even with a satin-like surface they would lack all the physical characteristics of a medal press proof coin. Sadly, Breen never understood how any of this worked, and his faithful acolytes continue the confusion. (Buffalo nickel proofs 1913-1916 were always matte finish, which came from sandblasting the dies before final hardening and tempering. 1936 satin proofs were made from normal fresh dies used in a medal press.)

All of the above verbiage by RWB cannot explain away the sharp squared brilliant rims with no beveling whatsoever that this coin possess, and is so noted on the slab insert. 

I rest my case. 

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True, but these supposed edges can not be seen in the slab.  Who's going to crack it out with the chance they will never be able to get it back into a slab again as a proof?  And this slab is probably old enough that it predates the current companies LLC status so any guarantee on it is now void.

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Ignoring fact is typical of those who need constant emotional validation of themselves. Little can change that, and logic or reason have no effect. However, here's one last attempt to encourage the noble t-arc to pinch himself into reality or create a spark of curiosity.

A. Without documentation there is "no case to rest." Regrettably, t-arc has nothing but opinion - strongly in the minority and quite unreliable - and no facts. Original documents point entirely away from t-arc's claims. If he is convinced the nickel is as claimed, then submit it to NGC or PCGS for a careful examination. To make this a bit more tempting: if t-arc submits the coin to NGC, and it is certified as "a 1935 satin proof," I will reimburse him all costs of certification and write an article regarding the coin and its attribution. [Note: Over the past 15 years I've made this offer to others when they claim something that is not factually supported and which can be independently tested. Previous items include: 1910 VDB cent; 1917 proof nickel; plus the usual outright fakes of 1913 Liberty nickels, 1894-S dimes, 1975 Kennedy halves, etc. No one has ever claimed the money.]

B. A shiny edge indicates nothing unusual. This is commonplace over decades for all plain-edge coins, and is part of normal collar manufacture. As to flatness, the collar and die are designed to produce that when presses are accurately set and maintained - but as a practical matter achieving  a right angle between rim and edge was inconsistently obtained.

Further, following experiments in 1927 with chromium plating dies, the Philadelphia Mint plated many collars for routine use. A few 1936-37 proof face dies were chromium plated, but nothing consistent was done until 1943 when chromium plated one-cent dies were used to reduce clogging from zinc dust.  Several countries had their production dies chromium plated for use at the Mint.

All this "verbiage" might be too much for the noble t-arc, but maybe there will be a tiny flame of curiosity ignited that leads him to open a modern book and question numismyth.  :)

Edited by RWB
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Going back to the title of this thread "Walter Breen's Numismatic Legacy," the above discussion highlights one of the indirect effects of Breen's outright fabrications and questionable attributions. His popular reputation among collectors is so strong that some are unable to think past what Breen claimed. This tends to perpetuate  errors and fabrications rather than encouraging open inquiry. (The Encyclopedia is the primary culprit here.)

Yet another issue is that some appear to expect almost perpetual accuracy or infallibility from Breen's 30-year old work. That is unfair to Breen and to all others who do the best they can in researching numismatics. Change is constant in all things.

As noted before, much of Breen's work was quite good and innovative for its day. He was very sparse on documentation, but the hobby was tolerant of that back then. Today's numismatic standards are more rigorous, questioning, and demand much better documentation than back in the "good ole' days." Sadly, separating the reliable-Breen from the fantasy-Breen is a slow and difficult process.

Edited by RWB
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Further, following experiments in 1927 with chromium plating dies, the Philadelphia Mint plated many collars for routine use. A few 1936-37 proof face dies were chromium plated, but nothing consistent was done until 1943 when chromium plated one-cent dies were used to reduce clogging from zinc dust.  Several countries had their production dies chromium plated for use at the Mint.

What in God’s name does this have to do with the current discussion?

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I am ought of here!!

The rest should get back to the topic at hand, discussing Walter Breen’s legacy which was the original intention of the thread.  

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5 hours ago, RWB said:

As noted before, much of Breen's work was quite good and innovative for its day. He was very sparse on documentation, but the hobby was tolerant of that back then. Today's numismatic standards are more rigorous, questioning, and demand much better documentation than back in the "good ole' days." Sadly, separating the reliable-Breen from the fantasy-Breen is a slow and difficult process.

This may be a good final word on this subject. My take-away is that one should approach Breen's work after absorbing current information rather than the reverse.

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19 minutes ago, LINCOLNMAN said:

This may be a good final word on this subject. My take-away is that one should approach Breen's work after absorbing current information rather than the reverse.

Would never pay a farthing for anything written by RWB.  We miss him so ATS.

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1 hour ago, t-arc said:

Would never pay a farthing for anything written by RWB.  We miss him so ATS.

Good news! In today's economy, you can pay in cents, yen, yuan, rupees, or any other currency of your choice! 

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RE: " What in God’s name does this have to do with the current discussion?" Shiny edge was mentioned as something distinctive -- a "proof" so to speak (pun intended).

Chromium plating of coinage dies and collars often produces very shiny coin surfaces. It was in use for some US coin collars in the 1930s, and possibly earlier.

Agreed. We can never "solve" the Breen conundrum, so take what is good and move on.  :)

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15 hours ago, t-arc said:

All of the above verbiage by RWB cannot explain away the sharp squared brilliant rims with no beveling whatsoever that this coin possess, and is so noted on the slab insert. 

I rest my case. 

In light of this brilliant reasoning, I've decided to recant my belief in all scientific research for the last few hundred years. I now firmly believe and adhere to the flat earth hypothesis, and anyone who tries to convince me with evidence, logic, reason, common sense, or any other futile attempts at ration will be burned at the stake. 

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